A unique illustration of pluralism

In India’s diverse society, pluralism is crucial for its proper functioning. A pluralist democracy, allowing the masses freedom of association, is necessary for the circulation of democratic culture. India has experienced life from every angle, height and depth imaginable. India’s cultural life has a rare quality of richness, variety and maturity. One of the most glorious aspects of India’s pluralistic cultural history is the treatment its states and people have given to religious and minority groups who came to India as refugees. Persecuted by their own countries with sacred places destroyed and fellow beings massacred, the Jews, Zoroastrians, Tibetans, etc. Our centuries-old traditions of tolerance and hospitality, attracted them and they saw their hopes and aspirations realized.

Rigidity and exclusivity are constant sources of intercultural conflict. Rigid cultures behave like billiard balls because they meet only to collide. The resilience and adaptability nurtured by pluralism in India has led to assimilation and synthesiswho have enriched our unique culture.

Every ancient culture has some interest in us, but when the culture is unique and continuous, that interest becomes much more contemporary and relevant. We study ancient cultures like Babylonian or Egyptian or Greek from a historical perspective. This study enriches our experiences of the past. However, the study of Indian culture is of particular importance as it is still a living factor for about 17.7% of the world’s population. The way in which this culture has come down to us is therefore a very fascinating and enriching study. The history of Indian culture goes back more than 5,000 years, which shows that it is subtle with a strong thread of unity that runs through the unlimited plurality of its life, intertwined by the power of seers and saints, philosophers , warriors, poets, artists, etc. “Cultural means the total accumulation of material objects, ideas, symbols, beliefs, feelings, values ​​and social forms which are transmitted from one generation to another in a given society.” (Teacher. KANeelkanta Sastri, Chronicle of UNESCO, 1959).

Pluralism is an understanding of social diversity. It can be the cultural, political or philosophical posture of a nation. In all of these types, pluralism accounts for the social context enjoyed as a relationship of contradictory and competing positions that cannot be seamlessly condensed, ordered forever, or reduced to a single institutional system. We are extremely proud of Ajanta Caves, Kashi Temple, Taj Mahal, Gommatesvara of Shravanabelagola, Golden Temple of Amritsar etc. Although they embody different religions, there is a sense of the emotional experience of being Indian. This explains the plurality of beliefs.

At one time, in India, kshetra (region) and desha (nation) represented two different identities in the sense of plurality. But their relationship is one of coexistence and not of confrontation. This explains the preponderance of identity and the ways of knowing it.

Regarding the language, India has never had the monopoly of a single language. Various local, regional, national and international languages ​​are spoken and learned by Indians. We are willing to learn different languages. Indian culture encourages the learning capacities of several currents at the same time and does not reject one in favor of the other.

We do not adhere to the policy of worshiping one God all over India or following one religion with one or two sects. Each community and caste have different gods to worship and follow their customs and traditions.

Even politically, India was never ruled by a single royal power except during the time of Ashoka or under the British. Various royal families ruled their territories simultaneously. They ruled all their domains but sought an opportunity to dominate the other. For example, when the Mughals ruled over northern India, the Vijayanagar rulers in the south and the Bahamani rulers in parts of the Deccan and central India ruled their territory simultaneously. Thus, in many respects, plurality exists through coexistence and not through confrontations.

At present, Indian democracy is unique for its multi-political party system. Thus, society is seen as different from position and political power. We also notice that an Indian lives with many identities like you can be Bengali or Tamilian, Goan, Hindu, Muslim or Christian etc. They all have their identities within the homogeneous life structure.

There are essential characteristics which are unique to Indian culture. Good governance has always been seen as a necessary prerequisite for people’s happiness. This is why prayers have been offered to cite auspicious times. Thus, rulers grant happiness and prosperity to people, always walking the path of righteousness in governing the state.

India is an agricultural society; the joy of the people is linked to the well-being of agriculture and livestock. For everyone’s satisfaction, the Pancha mahabhutas, the five primordial elements such as Prithvi – earth, Akasha – sky, Jala – water, Vayu – air and Agni – fire are pacified and worshipped. Thanks to all these elements, the life of each person survives. All these rudiments are worshiped in rituals, pilgrimages and festivals and are respected in the life of Indian culture.

Ahimsa – all confirmed religions Nonviolence, especially in Jainism and Buddhism. Many freedom fighters had championed the cause of ahimsa by waging war on the British during our freedom struggle. The storyline, content, characters, messages and lessons we learn from our epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata are not limited to one geographical area. These are for every Indian, and at any time and in any space, these two epics are good examples to draw inspiration from time to time. They have a significant impact on the thought process of Indians. From all these experiences and ideals developed a common vision of life.

Another enduring value that Indian culture taught is universal brotherhood, which is now called global consciousness spanning the globe was the foundation of Indian culture.

The old concept of “Unity in Diversity” has been retained; however, on the field, the color of this unit faded and artificial colors of diversity emerged. Unless we work to restore the balance of the original design soon, this delicate balance may be lost forever. Three important factors contributing to this decline are varieties of languages. The listing of its languages ​​has been controversial, given the implications of legitimizing and delegitimizing linguistic identities. Political divisions, all political parties create division among people for their small bank of votes. And the exclusivity of religion fact that religion simultaneously unites people while dividing others. The absence of pluralistic reciprocity would further aggravate the cracks appearing in Indian society.

Unlike many other post-colonial societies, India chose a pluralistic constitution at independence despite complex countervailing pressures after a bloody partition in 1947 based on the two-nation theory. Several historical evidences, experiences and circumstances, including the presence of political leaders committed to minority rights, have made this possible. The Constitution of India continues to endure as the norm in public life and enjoys legitimacy among various Indian groups. Therefore, the combined efforts of all intellectuals and political leaders are needed to forge the very concept of pluralism.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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